How to Prune

The overuse and misuse of sheared shrubbery is one of the most common forms of landscape mismanagement. Sometimes shearing shrubs is considered a matter of taste and sometimes it is not. Selective pruners refer to oversheared shrubs as “green meatballs.” “hockey pucks,” and “gum drops”; they spoof sheared landscapes as “tombstone” or “lollipop” yards and generally lament the presence of ubiquitous “poodleballing.” I call it “shear madness.”

Don’t Misuse Shearing

Aside from considerations of taste, there are other good reasons to avoid the use and misuse of shearing as a pruning technique:

  1. It locks you into a high-maintenance routine;
  2. It creates excessive waste o send to landfills;
  3. It causes the plant to use water less efficiently;
  4. It is difficult in the long run to control the size of your shrub;
  5. It is a drain on the health of the plants;
  6. It subverts the purpose of many shrubs, sometimes by eliminating their flowers, or, more unfortunately, sometimes destroying their branch patterns and texture.
By Cass Turnbull.  Her latest book is Cass Turnbull’s Guide to Pruning – What, When, Where & How to Prune for a Beautiful Garden